Is the Leisure Life Overrated?
Many dream of striking it rich so they can exchange work for a life of leisure. Funny thing is, most of the young and suddenly rich seem to end up going back to work. What for?
It's not for the money. Some have already made more than they could ever spend. Just look at two of the world's richest men. Bill Gates' company, Microsoft, made it's first million when he w as 22. At 31, he was a billionaire. Yet, he kept working as hard as ever. (1) Warren Buffett had his first million at age 31 and quickly multiplied it to billions. Yet today, in his late 70's, he keeps right on working. (2)
For some it's the thrill of competition. Others simply love their work. Still others throw themselves into finding worthy causes to support.
Max Levchin co-founded Pay-Pal and sold it to E-bay in his late 20's to net himself a tidy $100 million. "So, all that work paid off," you say. "He worked his tail off but then got to sit back and enjoy life, spending his millions." But on his personal Website, he cites his years building PayPal as "arguably the best and happiest times of my life." (3)
So maybe work's not so bad and the leisure life's overrated. That's precisely what Levchin learned during his year out of work after leaving PayPal. "I enjoy sitting on nice beaches and hanging out with my girlfriend and playing with my dog," says Levchin, "but that's three hours a day. What about the remaining 18 hours I'm awake?" He felt "worthless and stupid," calling it the worst year of his life. (4)
He'd hang out with Mr. Hong, another entrepreneurial super-success story, and talk about how miserable they were. "We were both pretty pathetic," Levchin said.
Hong threw himself back into work. So did Levchin, who now relishes putting in long hours to start new companies.
1) Why do you think Levchin couldn't enjoy the leisure life?
1) Stephen Manes and Paul Andrews, Gates
(Touchstone: New York, 1993), p. 128. Janet Lowe, Bill Gates Speaks (John
Wiley & Sons: New York, 1998) p. xii.
Copyright October 30, 2007 by Steve Miller.
All rights reserved.
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